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Mapping Systems

Canada takes aim at an asteroid - The Canadian Space Agency delivers its contribution to the first U.S. mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth

LONGUEUIL, QC - The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has delivered a sophisticated laser-based mapping system, its contribution to a NASA mission that will be Canada's first international attempt to bring a sample of an asteroid to Earth. NASA's Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission will study Bennu, an asteroid that has the potential to impact the Earth in the late 2100s.

The Canadian-built OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter (OLA) has arrived at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities near Denver, Colorado. In the coming months, OLA will be integrated onto the spacecraft and undergo spacecraft-level testing in preparation for launch in September 2016.

Built for the CSA by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. and their partner, Optech, OLA will create unprecedented 3D maps of Bennu to help the mission team select a site from which to collect a sample.The CSA will own a portion of the returned sample, which will be studied by Canadian scientists.

Quick facts

• OSIRIS-REx will reach Bennu in late 2018. The sample will return to Earth in 2023.
• Dr. Michael Daly of York University is the OLA lead instrument scientist. The Canadian science team contributing to the mission also includes researchers from the University of Calgary, the University of Winnipeg, the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia.
• The CSA's total investment in OSIRIS-REx for the full life cycle of the mission is $61 million over 15 years to support the development of OLA and the science team.


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